Mountain Gateway Community College (MGCC) is a two-year public institution of higher education and one of 23 community colleges within the statewide Virginia Community College System.
MGCC’s mission is to provide an opportunity for the extension of knowledge, skills and personal enrichment that maintains high academic standards, is financially and geographically accessible, and respects students’ diverse backgrounds, rights, responsibilities, and abilities. In partnership with local businesses, industry, government, professions, and other educational institutions, MGCC provides programs and services that prepare members of the community to reach their potential as engaged and learned citizens.
The College’s services area includes Alleghany, Bath, and Rockbridge Counties, the northern portion of Botetourt County, including the cities of Buena Vista, Covington, and Lexington with the main campus in Clifton Forge, Virginia and the Rockbridge Regional Center in Buena Vista, Virginia.
MGCC offers a wide variety of transfer and career training associate degree programs, along with community enrichment and career training in industry credentials in the fields of Health Care, Skilled Trades, Welding, and Commercial Driver’s License (CDL Class A).
MGCC is dedicated to advancing the economic vitality and sustainability of the community and its residents as it unites key constituents and to raise the level of attainment in education and training for its service area.
History of MGCC
MGCC was established in the early 1960’s by a committee of community leaders, chaired by Dr. Thomas N. Warren, and the school superintendents from Alleghany, Bath and Botetourt counties, and the cities of Clifton Forge and Covington.
It was determined that a two-year branch college would best satisfy the needs of the area. The General Assembly of Virginia (Chapter 11, title 23, Article 2.3) established the Clifton Forge-Covington Branch of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute on March 15, 1962.
In order to provide a campus, individuals in the area agreed to obtain a site and raise approximately $100,000, which was provided by the local governmental units on a proportional basis by population. In 1963, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company donated a site of 167-acre tract valued approximately $40,000, one mile west of Clifton Forge and the college was born. Local governments provided approximately $100,000 in
The first building, later named Backels Hall was completed in the fall of 1964. The first enrollment was approximately 100 students with 12 faculty members. Programs consisted of secretarial science and the VPI transfer program, students completing their second year of attendance.
On July 1, 1967, and with the establishment of the Community College System of Virginia, the College became Mountain Gateway Community College (MGCC) to honor Mountain Gateway, a prominent Virginia educator and long-time resident of the area.
Dr. Lancaster began his career as Associate Master of the Chamberlayne School for Boys in Richmond. He was a professor of Agricultural Education at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and became Dean of Men at the University of Alabama in 1923. He served as the Virginia State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1941 and became President of Longwood College in 1946. In 1955, he became the Chair of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
He later retired to Bath County where he served on the school board. Over his lifetime, Dr. Lancaster served on the boards of Madison College (currently James Madison University), Sweet Briar College, Virginia Theological Seminary and Episcopal High School.